The winter holidays can be troublesome for those who are allergy-prone, according to Myron Zitt, MD, past president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). But these miserable symptoms don’t have to spoil the holiday spirit.
“Be aware of where the problems lie so you can deal with them,” Dr. Zitt said. “And then, have a good time.”
Dr. Zitt and the ACAAI offer these four suggestions:
1. Dust off decorations. Artificial trees, wreaths, ornaments and other traditional decor can gather dust or mold while in storage. Give them a good cleaning before hauling them out from the attic or basement—or, better yet, ask someone without allergies to take care of these tasks. When the holidays are over, consider investing in some plastic storage containers. You’ll breathe easier next year.
2. Think about the tree. Live trees and wreaths contain potential allergens, such as terpene (found in tree oil or sap), mold and pollen. If live trees light up your allergies, think about switching to an artificial model. Not a fake flora fan? Then try washing your live tree with a garden hose. Let it dry in the garage or on the porch, sitting in a bucket of water. Wear gloves to avoid getting sap on your hands.
3. Ask about ingredients. Sweets and other holiday temptations are everywhere, which makes it easy to run afoul of foods that cause allergic reactions. When attending food-filled parties, ask the host about the ingredients. If it’s a potluck, track down the various cooks before eating anything.
4. Pack with care. If you’ll be traveling for the holidays, be sure to pack your allergy medicine. Also, if you’re allergic to dust mites, consider packing your allergy-blocking pillowcase. If you own injectable epinephrine (“epi pen”), carry that with you wherever you go.